The Bush administration wants the G-8 to scrap some targets for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and remove language stressing the need for urgent action from the group's proposed statement on climate change, according to a draft copy of the statement.
``We are writing to urge you to reverse course and strengthen the G-8 declaration,'' the chairmen of 15 committees in the House of Representatives said in a letter to Bush today. ``The U.S. must no longer delay action to address this major threat.''
Bush has resisted calls from companies, scientists and fellow world leaders to support mandatory limits on greenhouse- gas emissions, arguing that it would harm the economy. Instead, he has called for voluntary reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. Earlier this week, Bush ordered his administration to set new fuel-economy standards for cars by the year's end and encourage increased use of alternative fuels in a bid to curb greenhouse gases.
Most of the world's scientists say pollution from vehicles, power plants and other human activity is causing earth's temperatures and sea levels to rise and threatens to lead to large-scale, irreversible climate shifts disruptive to ecosystems and economies worldwide, according to scientists.
``The scientific consensus tells us that it's too late to avoid some warming, but we still have time to prevent dangerous warming,'' says the letter to Bush from 15 lawmakers including House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman.
Meeting in June
The G-8 draft document, dated last month, includes portions that the U.S. has requested be deleted when a final version is released at the end of the G-8 summit taking place June 6-8 in Heiligendamm, Germany.
Items the U.S. wants deleted include a reference to limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), targets for a reduction of greenhouse gases to half of 1990 levels by 2050, and language that says tackling climate change is an ``imperative not a choice.''
The European Union has made limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius one of its main environmental targets, with steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions required to achieve it. The U.S. has requested the removal from the draft of a paragraph that states a temperature increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius from before industrialization will result in ``largely unmanageable'' risks.
The Democratic lawmakers said that preventing global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit ``must be a top priority.''
The House and Senate have pledged to come up with climate bills later this year.
``Support is growing for aggressive legislation to cap global warming pollution and cut it dramatically over the coming decades,'' the letter from Democratic lawmakers says. ``But we need an executive branch that engages the rest of the world to solve the problem rather than stubbornly ignoring it.''
The Bush administration doesn't comment on private negotiations, said Kristen Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
``The U.S. continues to work with its G-8 partners and the developing world on how to identify new technologies that will help the whole world address climate change,'' she said.
Bush in 2001 rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the only international treaty that sets specific targets for emissions reductions.
The protocol binds 35 nations and the EU to cut emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. No targets have yet been set for a successor agreement after 2012, though governments are to meet at a United Nations conference in December in Indonesia to discuss actions to fight global warming.
The draft G-8 document calls for ``a clear message on the further development of the international regime to combat climate change'' to be delivered at the UN conference, another passage the U.S. wants deleted.